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You’re Stressing Your Child Out Too Much – And You Don’t Even Know It

You’ve been through your fair share of exams throughout the years, and as an adult, you might recognise that stress is sometimes a necessary component of daily life. Stress during your own schooling days might have developed you into a more resilient person and it has, in some ways, allowed you to enjoy some of the successes you are experiencing today.

But very little people would say they enjoy the experience of being placed in a stressful situation. You like the positive outcomes it brings, but we bet you could list 10 things about that experience that you absolutely loath.

Your child probably feels the same way. While on hindsight you know that the stress and hard work in your early life has helped you move forward in life, it is also important to acknowledge that excessive stress could have negative ramifications on his self-esteem and confidence.

Here are some ways you could be stressing your child out too much.

  1. You use the words “your brother (or sister) got better grades than you!”
    We know you just want to use the older sibling’s academic performance as a source of motivation but that can really hurt your child’s feelings instead. He could also end up wanting to do well for your approval and affections, and would relate success to love from you, which is unhealthy and might not be helpful in helping him develop a love for learning and knowledge.

    Do not use these on your child:
    – Why can’t you be more like your sister?
    – If you work hard like your sister, you can do as well as her, or even better!

  2. You don’t talk to him about how he’s coping in school
    Sure you tell him to finish up his homework, or ask about what his teacher had said about his art project, but do you ask him how he feels about school? What his favourite part of the day was? Do you know what made him laugh today, or if anything made him upset? Oftentimes, we don’t spend enough time understanding how school makes our child feel. And sometimes, we aren’t asking the right questions. In general, people respond better to specific questions, so if you want to know how the school day was like for your child, asking him “How was your day?” might not be very helpful. Here are some questions you can ask to find out how your little one is doing:

    – Tell me one thing that you’ve learnt today
    – Was anything really difficult for you today?
    – Tell me something good that happened
    – What was your favourite part of the day?
    – Did anything funny happen?

  3. You tell him that you’re disappointed in him
    It is natural to want your child to do well, and so it’s also natural to feel disappointed when he doesn’t, especially when it comes to examinations. But telling him how you feel might not have the intended effect of motivating him, but might make be discouraging instead. Find out how he feels about his own performance, and go from there. You might realise that he is as disappointed in himself as you are, if not even more so. Reassure him that you still love him, and that you will be there for him as you work on improving his grades together with him. Ask task-focused, self-improving questions to him such as “What do you intend to do about this? How do you intend to make this better?”